Frost-Seeding Clover

How to Frost-seed Clover

Clover is one of the most versatile crops available.  From ease of planting to the benefits it provides, clover is an important tool to have in your food plot program.  There are many ways to seed clover, but frost seeding is perhaps one of the easiest.  The frost seeding season is from late February through late March.  Low overnight temperatures cause the surface of the soil to freeze and crack.  Warm daytime temperatures thaw the surface, sealing the cracks.  These surface cracks allow the tiny clover seed fall to the ideal planting depth, resulting in seed that is naturally planted.  Seeding during this time allows us to take advantage of the freezing and thawing action.  Most clover seedlings are resistant to frost, so the seed can be broadcast as early as soil conditions permit.  Sow clover seed at slightly higher rates than conventional planting and if possible sow in the morning when ground is frozen but thawing in the afternoon.  Sowing seed in the morning while the ground is still frozen allows for equipment to be used without soil compaction.  Sowing clover seed on an inch or two of snow can also be successful.

A clover field frost-seeded in early spring…

Preparing your soil for Frost-seeding Clover

Usually it is helpful to have the area mowed and competing grasses and weeds killed the fall before but clover is commonly interseeded into brome and fescue grasses for cattle pasture.  Frost seeding is one of the easiest methods of seeding and very effective for those who cannot use tillage equipment.  Frost seeding a low cost clover seed onto a spent brassica or soybean plot will allow that plot to enter into a crop rotation.  The frost seeded clover will germinate in early spring, providing a spring and summer food source.  This clover plot can then be replanted into brassicas that fall.  If you wish, one can also plant a more expensive perennial clover for a long term clover plot.  Frost seeding of clover can also be done simultaneously with the application of dry fertilizer.  A single application of seed and fertilizer will reduce costs, application time and also soil compaction do to field traffic.  A perennial clover can also be mixed with chicory and frost seeded.  Berseem clover is an annual clover that is very inexpensive and is great to add to spring seeding mixes or for a late summer plowdown.  Don’t frost seed it or fall seed it because it will perish in cold weather.